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After dinner, we began, by little and little, to get our things into the boat, which was a troublesome business, on account of the surf. I carefully watched the motions of the natives, who continued to increase in number; and found that, instead of their intention being to leave us, fires were made, and places fixed on for their stay during the night. Consultations were also held among them, and everything assured me we should be attacked.
I sent orders to the master that, when he saw us coming down, he should keep the boat close to the shore, that we might the more readily embark.
The sun was near setting when I gave the word, on which every person who was on shore with me boldly took up his proportion of things and carried them to the boat. The chiefs asked me if I would not stay with them all night. I said “ No, I never sleep out of my boat; but in the morning we will again trade with you, and I shall remain till the weather is moderate, that we may go, as we have agreed, to see Poulaho, at Tongataboo." Maccaackavow then got up and said, “You will not sleep on shore, then, Mattie?” (which directly signifies, we will kill you); and he left me. The onset was now preparing: every one, as I have described before, kept knocking stones together; and Eefow quitted me. All but two or three things were in the boat, when we walked down the beach, every one in a silent kind of horror. We all got into the boat, except one man, who, while I was getting on board, quitted it, and ran up the beach to cast the sternfast off, notwithstanding the master and others called to him to return, while they were hauling me out of the water.
I was no sooner in the boat than the attack began by about two hundred men; the unfortunate poor man who had run up the beach was knocked down, and the stones flew like a shower of shot. Many Indians got hold of the
stern rope, and were near hauling the boat on shore, which they would certainly have effected, if I had not had a knife in my pocket, with which I cut the rope. We then hauled off to the grapnel, every one being more or less hurt. At this time I saw five of the natives about the poor man they had killed, and two of them were beating him about the head with stones in their hands.
We had no time to reflect, for, to my surprise, they filled their canoes with stones, and twelve men came off after us to renew the attack; which they did so effectually, as to nearly disable us all. We were obliged to sustain the attack without being able to return it, except with such stones as lodged in the boat. I adopted the expedient of throwing overboard some clothes, which, as I expected, they stopped to pick up; and as it was by this time almost dark, they gave over the attack, and returned towards the shore, leaving us to reflect on our unhappy situation.
The poor man killed by the natives was John Norton: this was his second voyage with me as a quarter-master, and his worthy character made me lament his loss very much. He has left an aged parent, I am told, whom he supported.
We set our sails, and steered along shore by the west side of the island of Tofoa, the wind blowing fresh from the eastward. My mind was employed in considering what was best to be done, when I was solicited by all hands to take them towards home; and when I told them that no hopes of relief for us remained, except what might be found at New Holland, till I came to Timor, a distance of full twelve hundred leagues, where there was a Dutch settlement, but in what part of the island I knew not, they all agreed to live on one ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of water per day. Therefore, after examining our stock of provisions, and recommending to them, in the most solemn manner, not to depart from their promise, we
bore away across a sea where the navigation is but little known, in a small boat, twenty-three feet long from stem to stern, deep laden with eighteen men. I was happy, however, to see that every one seemed better satisfied with our situation than myself.
Our stock of provisions consisted of about one hundred and fifty pounds of bread, twenty-eight gallons of water, twenty pounds of pork, three bottles of wine, and five quarts of rum. The difference between this and the
quantity we had on leaving the ship was principally owing to our loss in the bustle and confusion of the attack. A few cocoanuts were in the boat, and some bread-fruit, but the latter was trampled to pieces.
Sunday, 3d. — At daybreak the gale increased; the sun rose very fiery and red — a sure indication of a severe gale of wind. At eight it blew a violent storm, and the sea ran very high, so that between the seas the sail was becalmed, and when on the top of the sea, it was too much to have set; but we could not venture to take in the sail, for we were in very imminent danger and distress, the sea curling over the stern of the boat, which obliged us to bail with all our might. A situation more distressing has perhaps seldom been experienced.
Our bread was in bags, and in danger of being spoiled by the wet: to be starved to death was inevitable, if this could not be prevented. I therefore began to examine what clothes there were in the boat, and what other things could be spared; and having determined that only two suits should be kept for each person, the rest was thrown overboard, with some rope and spare sails, which lightened the boat considerably, and we had more room to bail the water out.
Fortunately the carpenter had a good chest in the boat, in which we secured the bread the first favorable moment. His tool-chest also was cleared, and the tools stowed in
the bottom of the boat, so that this became a second convenience.
I served a teaspoonful of rum to each person (for we were very wet and cold), with a quarter of a bread-fruit, which was scarce eatable, for dinner. Our engagement was now strictly to be carried into execution, and I was fully determined to make our provisions last eight weeks, let the daily proportion be ever so small.
Monday, 4th. — At daylight our limbs were so benumbed, that we could scarcely find the use of them. At this time I served a teaspoonful of rum to each person, from which we all found great benefit. Just before noon, we discovered a small flat island, of a moderate height, bearing west-south-west four or five leagues. I observed our latitude to be 18 degrees 58 minutes south; our longitude was, by account, 3 degrees 4 minutes west from the island of Tofoa, having made a north 72 degrees west course, distance ninety-five miles, since yesterday noon, I divided five small cocoanuts for our dinner, and every one was satisfied. During the rest of that day we discovered ten or twelve other islands, none of which we approached. At night I served a few broken pieces of breadfruit for supper, and performed prayers.
Tuesday, 5th. — The night having been fair, we awoke after a tolerable rest, and contentedly breakfasted on a few pieces of yams that were found in the boat. After breakfast we examined our bread, a great deal of which was damaged and rotten; this, nevertheless, we were glad to keep for use. We passed two islands in the course of the day. For dinner I served some of the damaged bread, and a quarter of a pint of water.
Wednesday, 6th. - We still kept our course in the direction of the North of New Holland, passing numerous islands of various sizes, at none of which I ventured to land. Our allowance for the day was a quarter of a pint
of cocoanut milk, and the meat, which did not exceed two ounces to each person. It was received very contentedly, but we suffered great drought. To our great joy we hooked a fish, but we were miserably disappointed by its being lost in trying to get it into the boat.
As our lodgings were very miserable, and confined for want of room, I endeavored to remedy the latter defect by putting ourselves at watch and watch; so that one-half always sat up while the other lay down on the boat's bottom, or upon a chest, with nothing to cover us but the heavens. our limbs were dreadfully cramped, for we could not stretch them out; and the nights were so cold, and we so constantly wet, that after a few hours' sleep, we could scarcely move.
Thursday, 7th. — B'eing very wet and cold, I served a spoonful of rum and a morsel of bread for breakfast. We still kept sailing among the islands, from one of which two large canoes put out in chase of us; but we left them behind. Whether these canoes had any hostile intention against us must remain a doubt: perhaps we might have benefited by an intercourse with them; but, in our defenceless situation, to have made the experiment would have been risking too much.
I imagine these to be the islands called Feejee, as their extent, direction, and distance from the Friendly Islands answer to the description given of them by those islanders. Heavy rain came on at four o'clock, when every person did their utmost to catch some water, and we increased our stock to thirty-four gallons, besides quenching our thirst for the first time since we had been at sea; but an attendant consequence made us pass the night very miserably, for, being extremely wet, and having no dry things to shift or cover us, we experienced cold shiverings scarcely to be conceived. Most fortunately for us, the forenoon, Friday 8th, turned out fair, and we stripped and dried our clothes.